Are you thinking about going into online teaching? Chiara Bruzzano reviews “Become an Online English Teacher”, a book published by Pavilion ELT which provides aspiring online teachers with advice on how to find the right tools, reach students and handle the practicalities of online teaching.
Become an Online English Teacher
by Nestor Kiourtzidis
Pavilion ELT 2015
Become an Online English Teacher: Essential tools, strategies and methodologies for building a successful business is a book published by Pavilion ELT. Its author, Nestor Kiourtzidis, is a co-founder of popular website Linguahouse and an experienced freelance online teacher. The book was first published in 2015 but had a refresh for 2020 with the website links being checked and updated, and a light redesign. Other titles to come in the series will specifically look at teaching through conference tools such as Zoom and Google Meet.
Who is this book for? It is for anybody looking to establish themselves as an online teacher of English. If you’ve been thinking about building your own online teaching business, this compact but insightful book will help you through the basics of what you need, from general set up to marketing yourself as an online teacher of English.
The book is composed of seven chapters. Chapter 1 gives an overview of the ‘tools of the trade’: hardware, communication tools, as well as tools for recording, sharing and collecting information from students. I was especially interested in the (free!) online tools Kiourtzidis suggests for scheduling sessions with online students.
Chapter 2 offers pointers for anybody who wants to transition to online teaching but needs to find new students. It talks about how to create a profile on the main teaching marketplaces and how to harness other online tools to reach students, such as blogs, online ads and forums. It also gives a brief overview of SEO (search engine optimisation), on which I would have actually enjoyed to read more. Helpfully, the end of the chapter gives a summary of the different marketing options with their pros and cons.
Chapter 3 is a guide to building a blog, from the more practical aspects (e.g. hosting services, pros and cons of different platforms) to suggestions on writing posts. Chapter 4 goes further into how to market yourself and your blog, from Search Engine Optimisation on Google, to social media and email marketing.
With chapter 5, the book turns to the nuts and bolts of running your teaching business, i.e. ‘establishing a workflow’. It offers valuable suggestions about how to approach students initially, how to test their level and conduct their needs analysis. The book also talks about an aspect that might be less common in face-to-face teaching - that is, how to approach free consultations and trial lessons. It also explains how to establish terms and conditions and request payment.
Chapter 6, aptly named ‘getting paid’, gives an overview of different payment methods (such as Paypal) for classes not run on a teacher marketplace (where payment systems are generally already in place). The book ends with Chapter 7, which gives practical tips for running online classes, including teaching speaking – a useful section as, in my experience, conversation classes tend to be quite popular online. The chapter provides some useful links to find worksheets and lesson plans online and tips for online error correction.
Overall, this book is practical in nature and it will be a useful starting point for anybody wanting to set themselves up as online teachers. Given the huge shift to online teaching that the world has experienced in the past few months, this book will be useful to many.
The part I liked the most was the about marketing, i.e. the one that pushed me (and, I suspect, many of my teacher colleagues) outside of my comfort zone! I see so many of us teachers struggling to think of how to ‘market’ our skills, and finding out about practicable techniques to reach students and create a following was a refreshing addition to my toolkit as a teacher.
I would have liked to see more advice on how to go about writing a blog post, perhaps with a sample or a few links to successful EFL blogs (of which there are many out there!).
In summary, I would recommend this book to anybody thinking about venturing into the world of online teaching. It is a realistic, practical book, laying out pros and cons of various aspects of online teaching clearly, succinctly, and effectively, so you will know what to expect and have the tools to deal with it.
Become An Online English Teacher is available now from Pavilion ELT.